First club funding “cautious” due to “unforeseen circumstances”

Written By Alexander Popichak, USG Beat Writer

Club leaders hoping to make a case for a larger funding allocation Monday were met by the reality that the United Student Government (USG) had no additional funds to offer.

The official budget USG has to allocate club funding is not finalized until the semesterly student census Friday, leaving USG’s finance committee reliant on history to make determinations. When faced with unbudgeted costs, the response was to “proceed with caution.”

“The funding that USG receives comes from the student activities fee,” USG President Bobby Bertha said Monday, speaking to a room of 14 club leaders. “Historically, it’s lower in the spring semester [than in the fall] due to enrollment. USG saw some unforeseen expenses in the fall semester for some of the programs that we fund, which has put us in the predicament that we’re in now.”

While Bertha did not elaborate on which specific programs he was referring to, USG funded programs include the maintenance of bikes in the Student Center, the operational cost of PointSync and the program that allows students to attend Pittsburgh Playhouse shows for free.

In addition to allocating funds conservatively, the legislative body began its meeting by approving a measure to suspend a rule allowing senators to amend budgets for greater than the amount originally proposed.

Usually, club leaders are able to provide context to initial requests and ask senators to reconsider. The rule change, adopted only for Monday’s meeting, barred any additional funds to be added to the allocation. The motion does not affect next week’s club appeals.

Impulse, Dance Club, Not On My Campus (NOMC) and the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) were each allocated no money. NOMC and NPPA were denied funds due to inconsistent or unclear requests. Impulse was denied funding because club members would have been charged on top of USG funding for their individual portraits. Dance Club’s event occurs during the second funding period, making the request ineligible for consideration.

USG Treasurer Justin Stocklas told club treasurers to submit appeals to the finance committee before next week’s meeting if they wish to contest the funding allocations.

“I encourage all clubs to provide as much information as possible as to why your events require additional funds,” Stocklas said. “The more information the USG Senators have the better the decisions they can make.”

In all, USG approved $13,862 of the requested $26,532 in club funds for the first half of the spring semester. The legislative body did not approve an internal budget or supplemental funding in light of the funding shortfall.

Four senators were absent from the meeting, leaving seven senators to approve the allocations made in the closed finance committee sessions. In all, Bertha reported that senators spent nine hours Friday and eight hours Sunday reviewing club requests – neither session was open to the public.

Senator Montana Gabriel discussed the communications committee’s plans for further promoting USG’s presence on campus and concerns students have brought through the committee. One such concern was the change in library hours earlier this semester.

Gabriel explained that the change in hours is a direct result of the change in scanning policy. Because there is no longer a desk attendant in the University Center, the library’s student staff has been trained in the new security protocol and those students’ hours are the new library hours.

USG also officially began its planning for its annual Pioneer Community Day (PCD.) PCD is an annual community service effort led by USG partnered with clubs. The legislative body appointed senior senator Matt Bauman as chair of the committee. The committee plans both the volunteer outreach and the celebration following it.

Press Secretary Josh Croup called attention to Public Safety’s efforts in transparency in response to the concerns of students last semester. In addition to the PointALERT system, Public Safety now offers a police blotter with details beyond the weekly crime report.

Parliamentarian Zac Seymour reported that he has begun work with Student Affairs to reactivate the food committee. The committee, an extension of Dean Keith Paylo’s role with dining services, advises CulinArt on food service offerings. Seymour invited any student interested to serve on the committee to contact him.

Disclosure: Press Secretary Josh Croup also serves as co-sports editor.